A Gift to the World
Daguerreotype portrait of Louis Daguerre, 1844
On this day in 1839 the government of France, having acquired the rights to Louis Daguerre‘s pioneering photographic technique in exchange for a life pension, published and proclaimed the daguerreotype process as “a gift to the world”. Within two decades Daguerre’s brilliant invention was superseded by the more versatile wet collodion process but as the first practical photographic technique capable of capturing fine detail daguerreotypy was an era-defining breakthrough in technology, changing forever the way we see the world. Many millions of daguerreotypes were taken during the brief period of the process’s supremacy while sadly, most of Daguerre’s own work was lost in a studio fire and only a handful of his epoch-making photographs survive.